The Relationship Between Female Parliamentary Representation and the Length of Parental Leave in Europe
Rolfes-Haase, Kelly L.
Thomas, Adam T.
Existing scholarship suggests that the extent of female representation in government at the national and sub-national levels is positively correlated with the existence of equal pay laws, spending on welfare benefits and public health, and the generosity of policies - including parental leave - that help individuals to reconcile work and family life. I use country-level panel data on 14 European Union countries to examine the relationship between female parliamentary representation and the length of two forms of parental leave available to new mothers: paid parental leave, which entitles recipients to financial benefits during a period of extended parental leave; and protected parental leave, which entitles recipients to comparable employment upon return from a period of extended parental leave. My results suggest that female parliamentary representation has a positive and statistically significant relationship with the length of paid parental leave, but is unrelated to protected parental leave. This study makes a novel contribution to the literature on this topic by differentiating between these two types of parental leave, and my findings add to existing evidence suggesting that greater female representation in government is associated with policy outcomes that advance women’s interests.
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